Denise O’Hagan

Poetry Editor, Australia & New Zealand, for The Blue Nib

Denise O’Hagan has a BA (Hons) in English Literature and Italian and an MA in Bibliography and Textual Criticism. She comes to us as an experienced editor, having worked for Heinemann Educational, Collins, Routledge & Kegan Paul (London) as well as Horwitz, Cambridge University Press and the State Library of NSW (Sydney). She looks forward to the new challenge of expanding The Blue Nib‘s reach in the Antipodes!

In 2015, Denise set up her own imprint—Black Quill Press to help independent writers as well as to publish her late mother’s works, Jerome & His Women (2015) and A Roman Death (2017).

What Do you hope to achieve during your time at the Blue Nib?

I look forward to deepening my awareness of what emerging poets are writing about, inspire them to keep writing, and help them get the exposure every poet needs. Literary journals, such as the Blue Nib are an essential bridge between writers and readers, and I aim make that bridge as far-reaching as possible.

What are you hoping to find in your submission pile? 

Poetry that is not written to a strict formula. I want to see poetry that delights, inspires, questions and pushes the boundaries, sometimes dangerously.

What do you not want to see in your submissions file?

Any poem which doesn’t adhere to the submissions requirements!

What would turn you off a submission? 

Poorly written submissions, those that do not adhere to submission guidelines. Work which could be construed as offensive to any group of people.

What do you see as an editor’s main responsibility?

To provide our readers with a diverse range of  meaningful work that shows them the ‘essentialness’ of poetry in our society.
As an editor, my duty to contributors is to encourage them to bring their best poetry to as wide an audience as possible.

What makes a submission really shine in your opinion?

Every poem should be an act of courage and revelation. When this is combined with a feeling for the deep power of words as well as technical soundness, that submission will shine. Editing, editing, editing, I would encourage every poet, every writer to take time to edit their work, then to put it away for a time, then edit it again. It is seldom or perhaps never, that a poem arrives perfectly formed.

What have you read recently that struck a chord with you and why?

I always have multiple books on the go. Right now, in no particular order, it’s You Gotta Have Balls by Lily Brett, The Women in Black by Madeline St John, and my father’s old and worn edition of Seamus Heaney’s Selected Poems. I laugh and cry with Lily Brett, marvel at Madeline St John’s little gem, and am lifted up to a place where words become nothing short of sacred with Seamus Heaney.

Career Highlights

Shortlisted for the inaugural Rosanne Fitzgibbon Editorial Award (the Rosie) run by the Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd) for her work on Jerome & His Women (2017)
Highly commended in the Australian Catholic University’s Poetry Prize (2018)
Shortlisted in the Robert Graves Poetry Prize (2018).

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